Despite the magnificence of the nature of this relationship, some Christians find addressing God as ‘Father’ somewhat difficult. Some struggle because of their experience with abusive human fathers, others struggle because for them the word ‘father’ reinforces patriarchy—the notion that males have a right to rule and dominate females, and still for others referring to God as Father seems to deify maleness.
These are important hurdles to overcome to experience the fullness of the relationship Jesus opens for us. I doubt Jesus was thinking of God as male when he prayed to his Father and taught the disciples to do the same. I believe he was focused on the quality of relationship, one full of intimacy, compassion, mercy, provision, support, comfort, and so on.
We find this emphasis in Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17. Here he prays for his followers that “all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you . . . I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:21-23).
There is no doubt some find it difficult to address God as Father because of experiences with their earthly fathers. The scars and wounds they carry distort their impressions of God and affect their ability to relate. Their struggle is not so much with God being Father, but with the hurts of the past projected onto God.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Our Father”, he was sharing with them the depth of relationship that he already knew of a God who deeply loves us. A God who desires relationship with us. A God who wants to share eternal life with us. A God full of peace and forgiveness whose love makes us whole, worthy and beautiful.
Again, today God invites you to rest in the love of Father.
Stephen L Baxter